The Time, the Brain and the Faith

(Costa café – Monday October 3 2011 after a strong double espresso: who needs drugs when you have coffee and music)

The Times – Saturday October 1 2011

David F. Ford as the footnote of the article titled “How reality is e by different experiences of time” tell us is:

‘Regius Professor of Divinity and Director of the Cambridge Inter-Faith Programme in the University of Cambridge ( He is the author of Christian Wisdom: Desiring God and Learning in Love (CUP) and The Future of Christian Theology (Wiley-Blackwell, in their Manifesto series)’

Here are some of his thoughts on time, brain wiring and reality and more:

‘A friend who did research among old people and their nurses, doctors and care givers found that practically all of them see time as running out. Time for them is linear, quantitative and heading for death…’

No surprises here, but let’s see:

‘…facing death could intensify other modes of time. He named three of these: cyclical; pendular; static.’

He then tries to find cover in a book about the divisions of the brain: The Master and his Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World (Yale University Press, 2009) by Iain McGilchrist in which he ‘reflects at several points on how our sense of time is related to parts of our brain. The left hemisphere deals in clock time, dividing it in quantifiable units, homogeneous and abstracted from life, unfolding in sequence. The right hemisphere deals in lived time, narrative, music, depth, intensity, and imagining the past and the future. Ideally the two go together in a complex interplay, with the right in overall charge. But he argues that in our civilisation the left has become inappropriately dominant.’

My left side of the brain agreed on this point with the right side.

It seems that the conflicts between people living next to each other can be explained by their inner conflicts in this case the conflicts between the two sides of their brains.

‘How to respond to this diagnosis?’ he follows

‘It would require both hemispheres together, led by the right’s openness to depth, rich meaning and imagination, but drawing on the left’s ability to shape life through routines, habits and practices. That sounds like a description of what religions offer at their best – but one also notices how much religion is gripped by what McGilchrist sees as the spirit of our age, seeking clear and literal certainty, following rigid rules, and competing for control over lives and societies.’

I couldn’t agree more so I end my excursion by presenting a newly found organisation: Coexist Foundation

The Coexist Foundation is proud to announce the launch of the Coexist Prize. The Coexist Prize, worth $100,000 (£60,000), will honour an unsung hero who has made an exceptional contribution to building bridges between people of different faiths.

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